From Midwestern traumas to New York, LA and acclaim

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After sampling the delights and downsides of both coasts, Kevin Morby has now got back in touch with his Midwestern roots and bought a three-bedroom house in Kansas City, now adorned with art by his friends; today, he splits his time between his hometown (“very cheap”) and Mount Washington (“very expensive”).

“Kansas City is suddenly appealing to me, all over again,” he says. “I left there in a fever, but now it’s been 10 or 11 years, and I’ve come full circle. It’s a space to work and to be quiet and not be distracted. Now the price is growing in LA [so] I’m kind of into this idea of just existing in Kansas City when I’m not on tour.”

“I think anyone is shaped by where they come from,” says Sam Cohen, “and there’s definitely something about Midwestern people – it’s a different worldview than you would get in New York or LA.”

“If I’m more traditionalist than people like Tim [Presley] or Jessica [Pratt], I think that’s because I’m from the Midwest,” suggests Morby. “You can’t escape it, for better or worse. In Berlin last year, I was tuning my guitar between songs, and someone yelled out ‘Stop tuning!’ My kneejerk reaction was to say ‘Fuck you’ in the mic. Then immediately afterwards I said, ‘Sorry, I didn’t mean that!’ My friend from Kansas City, who lives in Berlin now, was like, ‘I love how Midwestern we are. You rightfully said “Fuck you”, then immediately apologise.’”

“I think Kevin has more indie-Americana in his sound [than some of us in LA],” reckons Tim Presley. “By definition, I think we all are classicist at heart, but he definitely has a love for songwriters and songwriting.”

Morby also seems to be aping his heroes’ workrate – although City Music is only just coming out, he’s already well into the creation of his fifth record, reuniting with Singing Saw producer Sam Cohen. “It’ll be a unique album in his catalogue, for sure,” says Cohen, discussing the fruits of their recent sessions. “This has its own character, but it’s all Morby all the way; he has a very recognisable songwriting style.”

“Kevin’s got a lot going on in his head,” says Jeremy Earls. “I think he’s thinking one or two records beyond.”

“I have an idea of the direction I want to take the next one, absolutely,” confirms Morby. “My whole goal with making records is to always make something a lot different than the thing that I did before it, and also to do what’s natural.

“At the end of my life,” he laughs, “I wanna have no record deal and just be giving out bluegrass CDs at the farmers market, that I just made and burned myself. I wanna go that route! I’ll be selling my guitar that I bought in 2010 for a couple of thousand dollars to pay my mortgage…”

He’s kidding, of course. But then again, you wouldn’t want to bet against any route that Kevin Morby might take. After all, he’s just getting started.

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The July 2019 issue of Uncut is on sale from May 16, and available to order online now – with The Black Keys on the cover. Inside, you’ll find David Bowie, The Cure, Bruce Springsteen, Rory Gallagher, The Fall, Jake Xerxes Fussell, PP Arnold, Screaming Trees, George Harrison and more. Our 15-track CD also showcases the best of the month’s new music, including PJ Harvey, Peter Perrett, Black Peaches, Calexico And Iron & Wine and Mark Mulcahy.

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